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By JoAnna Ness, Dec 6 2019 03:08PM

“It started as a thought.” Bill Ramos, Executive Director of the Alano Club of Angola, said the idea for the nonprofit came from a similar club in Detroit. He thought that Steuben County could benefit from a safe meeting place for people in recovery from alcohol and addiction to socialize and talk recovery. Ramos reached out to community members he had met through meetings and asked for their advice and expertise, which helped Alano Club become a tax-exempt nonprofit organization with the ability to provide hope and direction for people. Today, it’s a welcoming place in downtown Angola for those who are in recovery or still struggling, to come in and ask for help from people who have been in their shoes. It’s also a family friendly place – especially for karaoke night on Saturdays!

Since Alano Club opened in 2017, people in the community have learned more about its programs, and Ramos shared that he regularly has people off the street come in asking for help. When that happens, Alano Club acts as an information center, providing resources like meeting lists, social events, and game nights. They host AA and NA meetings, along with Al-Anon and Buddhist meditation based meetings. They work with many other nonprofits to help direct people to the services they need, referring people to TLC House, Northeastern Center, Four County Transitional Living, and more. Even if it’s not Alano Club that provides assistance, they try to send people somewhere that can help.

“You have no idea how you’ll impact a person’s life,” said Ramos. Each day, Alano Club is working to break the stigma surrounding addiction. A big challenge is the support from the community and getting people to see the big picture of the issue, beyond those who personally suffer. The problem is not limited to the individual, but it affects the workforce and community safety. In the future, Alano Club would like to collaborate with other industries, such as companies who have workers who fail drug tests, to offer a more holistic approach to the issue.

If Alano Club didn’t exist, people might still seek out other centers for resources. However, Alano Club helps provide a friendly face and a helping hand so they can be there in the short window of time when a person who wants to recover is reaching out for help. “My favorite part is making a difference and helping others. I wish something like this had existed for me,” said Ramos. When people walk through the doors of the Alano Club, they feel something like “welcome home.”

Check out this 30 second video nonprofit spotlight with Executive Director, Bill Ramos:

By JoAnna Ness, Nov 18 2019 04:00PM

On November 18, 2019, The Angola Fire Department installed the 20th Safe Haven Baby Box located on the northwest corner of the station. The fire station was chosen due to its accessibility and proximity to the Michigan state line. The Safe Haven Law allows people to anonymously surrender their healthy newborn without fear of criminal prosecution.

Safe Haven Baby Box Inc . is a non-profit founded by firefighter/medic Monica Kelsey. Kelsey was abandoned as an infant and is committed to installing more Safe Haven Baby Boxes and raising awareness in communities across America. The Safe Haven Baby Box organization also staffs a 24-hour hotline (1-866-99BABY1) to give women the opportunity to talk to a trained professional as they consider safely surrendering their baby.

“So far in 2019, 7 babies have been surrendered in Indiana safely as a result of calling the Safe Haven Baby Box hotline or using a Safe Haven Baby Box. We know that education and awareness around the Safe Haven Laws and Safe Haven Baby Boxes sav e lives. Women in crisis need more options, in more locations throughout the state of Indiana,” says Monica Kelsey.

The Safe Haven Baby Box in Angola is a true collaborative effort. Funding for the purchase and installation was provided by the Steuben County Community Foundation (SCCF). Wagler Construction and Mike Rathburn Masonry donated services and materials for the installation. Ongoing maintenance and support for the Safe Haven Baby Box will be provided by the Angola Fire Department and the City of Angola.

Randy White, chair of the SCCF board of directors, shared, “Steuben County Community Foundation is proud to support this vital community project that will provide safety and a future for infants surrendered in our county.”

Jennifer Danic, Executive Director of SCCF, shared, “The Foundation was happy to see the fire department and city come together to make this resource available. It’s not every day the board can make a grant that has such broad community impact!”

Nationwide, 60 women and children have come through the Safe Haven Baby Boxes program. Safe Haven Baby Boxes cost roughly $15,000 with installation and are equipped with alarm systems to notify 9-1-1 immediately. Safe Haven Baby Boxes also have heating and cooling features and lock as soon as the baby is placed inside. Indiana is one of five states with updated Safe Haven Laws to include additional surrender options, such as the Safe Haven Baby Box.

By JoAnna Ness, Nov 18 2019 02:46PM

County farmer, Bruce Moody, directed $2,500 to Steuben County Community Foundation (SCCF) through America’s Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Bayer Fund. As part of their mission, Steuben County Community Foundation will use the funds to support nonprofits and community projects in Steuben County.

“SCCF is grateful for local community members like Bruce who believe in our mission and want to help make a difference in the community. This grant will help us support some of the most important needs that matter in Steuben County,” said Jennifer Danic, President and CEO of Steuben County Community Foundation.

Celebrating its 10th year, America’s Farmers Grow Communities partners with farmers to support nonprofit organizations strengthening rural communities. The program offers farmers the chance to direct a $2,500 donation to a nonprofit of their choice. It has awarded more than $33 million to over 8,000 nonprofits across rural America.

“A better life is Bayer’s goal. Farmers are invested in their communities, they root for their neighbors, and they know when and where there is a need,” said Al Mitchell, Vice President Corporate Engagement, Bayer. “Farmers are one of America’s best resources, which is why Grow Communities partners with them to direct donations to the organizations they are passionate about and that make a positive impact and a better life in communities.”

By JoAnna Ness, Nov 12 2019 02:56PM

The Cleon and Pauline B. Throop Scholarship was established at the Steuben County Community Foundation in October 2019 through a $100,000 bequest from the Throops. In 1944, they started what would become Throop Florist and Greenhouse. Serving customers from all over Steuben County, they sold the business in 1978 but the name remained until the store closed in 2017. Cleon and Pauline were active community members throughout their entire lives. Cleon served on the board of directors at First Federal Savings Bank in Angola for 58 years, including 38 years as Vice President. He was a member of the Angola Lions Club for an outstanding 73 years, served on the Angola City Council from 1960-1963, and was a member of the Jaycees. Like Cleon, Pauline was involved in a variety of civic organizations. Pauline co-founded the Jaycee Wives Club and was a member of the Angola Women of the Moose and Sigma Phi Gamma. Married over 77 years, Cleon and Pauline died within six months of one another in 2018.

Cleon and Pauline Throop felt it was important to leave a legacy of community support in Steuben County. Their son, Tom Throop, shared that his parents wanted to make a difference, saying, “This scholarship will support students from Steuben County as they pursue a great future and gain new experiences, which is what my parents had hoped to make possible.” Beginning in spring 2020, the scholarship will be awarded annually to a Steuben County student who is venturing outside the county to pursue opportunities for academic achievement.

The Cleon and Pauline B. Throop Scholarship is one of more than 55 scholarships administered through Steuben County Community Foundation. Applications are now available for spring 2020 graduates and non-traditional students on SCCF’s website at

By JoAnna Ness, Nov 7 2019 03:08PM

FIST is a student-led organization comprised of 19 students in grades 8-12 from Hamilton, Angola and Fremont. The mission statement is to empower the youth of Steuben County to become the leaders of tomorrow by sharing their resources and empowering others to donate their time, talents and treasures. FIST members run their monthly meetings, working through an agenda and taking minutes to note their discussions about grant requests and volunteer activities. Every October, FIST organizes a canned food drive at the schools and visits Angola, Fremont, and Hamilton neighborhoods to trick or treat for canned goods. In 2019, they collected more than 8,000 cans from Fremont, Angola, and Hamilton. The students also volunteer with the annual pie auction and help wrap gifts during the holiday season with Cops for Kids.

Although there are other youth volunteering organizations in Steuben County, FIST is unique for a few reasons. First, they gather students from three different school systems who may not have otherwise interacted. Second, they are part of a larger network of youth pods which were established by the Dekko Foundation in Indiana, Alabama, Iowa, and Minnesota. Finally, FIST is entirely youth-led. Any decisions about new volunteer projects, grantmaking, or educational programming comes from the students in their meetings. Adults offer support and connections when needed, but it’s clear that the students are responsible for the impact of FIST. In addition to support from SCCF, the members of FIST benefit from having a guide who represents each school. These three guides provide transportation for the students to the meetings, raise tough questions, and offer support by answering questions students have between meetings.

FIST collaborates with other nonprofits who offer youth programming or volunteer opportunities in the community. They awarded a grant to Cahoots Coffee Café to support monthly game nights, and FIST members are often in attendance sharing their experiences with other youth in the community.

Current FIST President, Isabell Deem, shared, “My experience in FIST helped me become an all-around stronger leader and taught me skills that I have been able to apply in other clubs and extracurricular activities, such as the Angola Mayor’s Youth council and the golf team.”

Click the link below to watch FIST members discuss their experiences learning about philanthropy: